This is a very interesting and surprisingly open interview with the man who created the biggest UK bookchain, Waterstone’s.
“I became increasingly frustrated – frankly pissed off – with the way it was being run. I was chairman of HMV and was watching my own baby being absolutely murdered. And it was so stupid because the book market was just growing and growing, and people coming in from Tesco or Asda or Boots seemed to think their job was to get Waterstone’s away from books, and move it towards multimedia or something. It was very hard for the people who worked in the stores, who I’d known for years – great, terrific people, wonderful people.”
If anyone wants an insight into how publishing operates at the frontline, they should read this.
It was interesting when they acquired Ottakar’s and turned a successful book chain into a more troubled chain, have more recently decided that the Ottakar’s philosophy was the way to go after all, and that booksellers should have more of an influence in what gets sold at a local level. Because they know their stuff and it’s good for everyone.
Yes, I did once work for Ottakar’s, so perhaps I’m biased.